An important aggravating feature in this story, which is basically unique to the American legal system, is the quantum of damages. In most ordinary (and rational) legal systems, damages awards are tied to actual loss which will be suffered by the plaintiff. Assuming Mr Diaz here was earning $80k a year, and the court considered it reasonable that he would take about 12 months to find new employment, then his damages would be $80k. Throw in a bit more for the loss caused by 'pain and suffering', and you're looking at something like $100k.

But because American damages awards are entirely detached from reality, you get these ludicrous stories of factory workers getting compensated with more money than they'd earn in 10 lifetimes.

And in the end, the incentives which drive this entire social phenomenon you are describing are financial.

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In response to the bits about Saddam and Stalin, you might find the concept of 'flattery inflation' useful. Basically, if everybody is saying Saddam is a great man, or even putting up life-size statues of him, you need to put up a super-life-size statue of him to get noticed as a good citizen (or subject).

With Wokeness, unfortunately, I think there's now a similar dynamic. Anyone can criticize obvious or actual racism in a restrained, civilized way; the only thing that will really boost your stock now is getting someone fired for something that only you (with your exquisite sensitivity and your advanced degrees) could tell was a 'harmful trope.'

On flattery inflation: http://abandonedfootnotes.blogspot.com/2011/12/flattery-inflation.html

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As a further comment, your narrative doesn't sit well with the fact that wokeness incubated first in online fandom communities like gaming, science fiction and fantasy, Steven Universe fans, and other online spaces consisting largely of freelancers where employment law does not apply. Google "Racefail '09" for example. Woke cancel culture existed as early as early as 2009, it was just limited to the world of online fandom where it had no effect on real-life workplaces.

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Some objections to your claim that civil rights law is the source of the problem:

You suggest that the incentives for woke zealotry arise from the vagueness of the reasonable person standard. Reasonable person standards apply in many, many other places in the law (for instance in definitions of negligence). Why don't we see "Saddam Hussein statue" behavior arising from those laws?

Also, religion is a protected class and so Christians in the workplace have just as much legal power granted by civil rights laws. If all it takes to fuel the fire of wokeness is protection under civil rights law, why don't we see "Christian wokeness"?

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What do you mean the Elites force their norms on us?

Dear Richard: their norms are racial apartheid, they talk like a hateful version of MLK, but they live Apartheid. DC is the most acute Racialized government in existence; the Elite and Ivy League Whites hold all the power, the Blacks are all in livery (uniforms).

Something the National Guard certainly noticed.

NYC has the most segregated school system in America.

The 14.9% strivers under the 0.1% elites all sit on suburban school boards so they can have “good schools” (no Blacks).

How can we call Civil Rights Laws “their norms “?

Dearest Richard; segregation in 2021 is like the masks; the Elites go unmasked, the servants of all colors go masked.

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Typically good reasoning on both issues. On the "Cult of Leadership" issue, Trump had already developed his Cult before running for office, and after being installed in office (he lost the popular vote by 3 million) he populated government offices with True Believers as much as he could. He even put his name on the first Stimulus checks. Out of office he still operates as Cult Leader in the party he has taken over,forcing everyone to support his lies or face destruction. He even had a Golden Statue of himself at their convention.

On the race issue I think your point about this being a different time is operative. Class certainly plays a part with the "N...." word being used prevalent in the lower economic classes (particularly among Blacks) but not in the upper class of any race or group today. Many things will land you in deep trouble today that were common in the late 20th Century, all involving Race, Sex or Politics. It seems we have gotten much more sensitive and Puritanical about Race and Sex, and far less judgemental and Patriotic about Politics and what Politicians can say and do. The 21st Century has started with Permanent War, Perpetual Campaigning, and no liability for aligning and supporting lies and Conspiracy Theories. Now all is fair in Love, War, and Politics.

We seem to have aligned Victim Culture with Cancel Culture in a way that places everyone at risk for Canceling over something they said or wrote 50 years ago. An off-hand remark made in the 80s can metastasize overnight in a political and/or Cultural and/or Financial death sentence with all the "victims" lining up to pronounce the sentence AND carry it out.

The modern Culture Wars are asymmetric and without rules or uniforms. America has developed its own Taliban, rigid and righteous in its fight against nonbelievers in God, Capitalism, Moral Correctness and Exceptionalism. They censor every means of communication, minutely examining everything, looking for anything that would offend someone, looking for evidence of Socialism, Racism, Sexism, and/or nonconformity.

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I’m a fan of the “reasonable person” standard in tort law. Sometimes the measure of bad (or risky) conduct really is just whatever most people would agree it is. The key is get a “jury of your peers” to decide. They need to be peers.

I agree with Mark about juries. The same people who agreed to impose this penalty on Tesla may not have agreed to do the same to the employees who used the racial slurs themselves. They may have been more sympathetic. I think a non-woke jury might still like the chance to stick it to a large corporation.

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On the personality cult thing, see also Mao's Mangoes (Spandrell did a piece on that, but his site seems to be in transition right now) https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/does-anyone-like-fruitbaskets

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Wokeness is the replacement for Constitutional government, which fell on January 20th to the reluctant guns of the National Guard. A replacement is essential and it is Woke. Religious fervor as replacement for consent of the governed; excitatio vult (Wokeness wills it).

Wokeness is Power being competent. Their most competent move since 1945.

That Wokeness has existed as a body of law for decades adds further legitimacy.

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Wokeness isn't a fad. It's been developing for a very long time. The idea that whites are bad and non-whites good really began in the 18th century, with the noble savage. Later, the French artist Paul Gaugin hated the West so much he left his wife and children and moved to Tahiti. Gaugin isn't considered paranoid at all. He was an oikophobe.

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This is brilliant Richard. I like the way you combined the feminization of the elite class with the war on the working class. Let me ask you this: how do you square the feminization of elite culture with the war on women by the trans movement? Women seem to be paradoxically spreading their gendered culture (hyper sensitivity paranoia etc) while losing their sports, privacy, safety etc. How to understand this paradox especially that it is woke women who seem to be the biggest enthusiasts of the trans movement? Is it that the feminine has become the new elite universal that men now lay claim to it which would then make women winners and losers at the same time?

Let me propose another wrinkle to your analysis: I think within the elites there is a transfer of wealth from liberal white elites to black elites in the form of a creation of a whole black dominated bureaucratic class whose job it is to discipline the working class. The hyper sensitivity culture that the black bureaucratic class draws upon is the one of liberal elite women who tend to think of blacks as their “babies”. There is an ongoing baby-ification in elite liberal culture of blacks that is cynically exploited by the black bureaucratic class to further their aims. There is also a strand of elite black “resssentiment” (the French word) of whites which cannot be expressed to white allies and is therefore intensified in expression directed at the white working class described ( Trump voters). In other words I think the new sensitivity of wokenness is an overdetermined cultural phenomenon that combines the view of liberal white women of blacks (babies needing protection) and black elite resentment of whites ( which I suspect is a form of displacement of their rage towards their own forever failing black underclass).

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Love the article if you want to hear a similar story about how the Cultural Revolution under Mao occured, read related. Also look at pictures of Chinese Mango propaganda to get you in the mood.


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or, you know, move from California to Texas

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Richard, if you think King of the Hill is underrated (which it is), you need to check out Mike Judge's other masterpiece, The Goode Family. Crudely speaking, it's a mirror image of King of the Hill. The fact that it was written c. 2008 is a testament to Judge's deep cultural aptitude.

Back to the article, you're not insane when you say the 90s was a different planet. Just look at shows like Hey Arnold, where a white orphan being raised by his semi-senile grandparents in a halfway house is best friends with a black kid, both of whom are bullied by a fat Jewish kid. It might as well be Amos n' Andy if seen by your run-of-the-mill HR administrator in 2021.

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This was so good just like your original article on why wokeness is civil rights law. I just don't understand why people put up with it? Why don't local business leaders get together with republicans in Texas and pass a law that says you can't sue for more than $1,000 in this situation? Why doesn't a Trump appointed judge rule that civil rights law is null and void? (You know this would happen if the shoe was on the other foot).

The entire ruling class seems to be woke and going against their own incentives.

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